All posts by myvoiceathome

Campaigning for victims’ rights: #StopTraffickingSG

Trafficking in persons is a serious crime and a violation of human rights. Every year men, women and children are deceived or coerced into leaving their homes and moving to Singapore only to end up in jobs and working conditions they did not expect. However, even after discovering that they have been deceived, many of them find it difficult to leave because of huge debts they own to recruiters, or because they face nothing but poverty in their home countries. These men, women and children may also be physically, psychologically, and sexually abused, and have to work long hours with inadequate rest. They may also be verbally abused or threatened by their employers and recruiters.

A few months ago Singaporean MP Mr Christopher De Souza proposed to draft a Private Member’s Bill dedicated to combating human trafficking. HOME was present at public consulations held The aim is to present the Bill in parliament in November 2014. HOME welcomes the new Bill, and hopes it will be a significant step in combating human trafficking in Singapore.

HOME, together with other Singaporean Non-Governmental Organisations AWARE, TWC2, Healthserve and MARUAH has organised the StopTraffickingSG Campaign, which will run from now until the presentation of the Bill in Parliament.

The StopTraffickingSG campaign aims to create more awareness on Human Trafficking issues in Singapore, and to urge the government to adopt a victim-centred approach in the drafting of the Bill on Prevention of Human Trafficking. The campaign organisers feel that without this, the Bill will not be sufficiently effective in combating Human Trafficking.

StopTrafficking SG recommends the following to be considered:

  1. Victims have the right to accommodation, food, counselling services, legal aid, medical treatment, compensation and social support while their case is on-going.
  1. Victims are not prosecuted for being an undocumented immigrant or for working ‘illegally’ or for any illegal immigration infractions inadvertently committed while being trafficked. 
  1. Victims have the right to work and a decent income while their case is on-going.

Victim’s rights need to be taken into consideration to ensure detection and prosecution of traffickers and trafficking-related crimes. If not, many victims will opt to return to their home countries without making a formal complaint to the authorities, rendering the Bill ineffective.

At the moment, trafficked victims are often reluctant to file complaints and claim justice. Investigations and legal proceedings may take several months or even up to two years before being resolved, during which time the victims are obliged to remain in Singapore. It is not guaranteed they will have the option to work during investigations, and many, being the breadwinners of their families, can simply not afford to stay to file a complaint. Sometimes victims are even prosecuted for being undocumented immigrants, or for working illegally, often unknowingly and due to the actions of their traffickers. The victim’s fear for the authorities stops them from seeking help.

Inclusion of victim’s rights will also align Singapore’s laws with international standards. A clear framework to protect victims of trafficking in Singapore strengthens relations with our neighbours, who are the main source countries of victims trafficked through and to Singapore.

Guaranteeing the  victims’ safety, livelihood and sustenance in the Bill will give victims of Human Trafficking the incentive to report, identify and testify against perpetrators. This will aid the effective prosecution of employers and recruiters involved in trafficking persons into Singapore, and in turn assist the destruction of trafficking syndicates as well as bring justice to victims and reduce crimes that threaten the security of Singapore.

Visit the Campaign website, for updates and Human Trafficking Stories: http://stoptraffickingsg.wordpress.com/

Or find StopTraffickingSG on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Stoptraffickingsg

Please sign our Petition for the comprehensive protection of the rights of Trafficked Persons in Singapore. Everyone with a valid address in Singapore is eligible to sign, regardless of nationality.

Read here HOME’s full response to the proposed Bill: Position Paper on the Prevention of Human Trafficking Bill,

Want to learn more about what Human Trafficking is? Check out these websites with useful information:

United Nations

www.humantrafficking.org 

Healthcare worker paid just $330 per month to care for Singapore’s sick and infirm

Earlier this month, as part of the National Day Observance Ceremony, NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Patrick Tay announced that the wages of around 5,000 local healthcare support staff would have increased by about 15 per cent by the end of 2014. Such increases are welcomed, but wages in the healthcare support sector remain shockingly low, particularly for migrant workers.

HOME recently assisted a Healthcare Assistant from Myanmar. Thiri* had been working for her employer in Singapore for two years. Her salary was $330 per month. This is just $1.53 per hour.

According to the Ministry of Manpower’s annual wage report for 2012, a healthcare assistant at the 25th percentile earned an average basic monthly salary of $1161. This means that the average wage of the worst paid workers doing the same job was still almost 4 times more the amount Thiri earned. Foreign worker levies for unskilled workers in the services sector are between $420 and $700 a month. Thiri’s employer most likely had to pay more to the government for hiring her than to Thiri herself.

Thiri was employed to work in a home for intellectually disabled people. She had one day off every week and worked shifts, sometimes overnight. Irregular sleep patterns are the norm for health care workers who perform such tasks. She was mainly responsible for general cleaning and cleaning up after patients who soiled themselves. Thiri paid her agent in Myanmar S$2800 for her job. This was eight and a half months’ of her basic pay.

Thiri came to HOME for help when she was dismissed by her employer without proper notice. HOME referred Thiri’s case to the Ministry of Manpower, where Thiri agreed to return home to Myanmar with one month’s compensation in lieu of notice. She was keen to get home.

Singapore’s Government acknowledges that as our population ages, there will be more demand on healthcare services. Migrant workers make up around 75% of the healthcare support workforce, and projections from the Prime Minister’s Office suggest that 6,000 new positions for migrant workers will be created by 2030.

Singapore prides itself on the quality of its healthcare system, but it is crucial that the workers who support this system are adequately compensated for their efforts. It is difficult for anyone to argue that a basic wage of $330 per month is adequate compensation for taking care of Singapore’s sick and infirm.

* Not her real name

AGC must go further to address abuse case delays

HOME welcomes statements by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) that it has formed a working group to focus on expediting the prosecution of employers who abuse their domestic workers and to look into compensation options for victims (“AGC studying ways to speed up cases involving abused foreign workers”, The Straits Times, 4 August 2014). However, more must be done to assist abused foreign domestic workers in Singapore. 

The slow pace of abuse investigations in Singapore takes its toll on victims of abuse. As The Sunday Times reported on 3 August 2014, HOME’s shelter hosts abused domestic workers who must remain in Singapore to assist investigations. Many are stuck here for years. This long wait has a heavy impact; emotionally, physically and financially. Whilst speeding up the investigations would help these women get home sooner, this is not enough.

As AGC recognises, abused foreign domestic workers in Singapore deserve compensation for their ordeals. However, the compensation framework needs to be streamlined and standardized. Further, compensation assessments must reflect the trauma and abuse suffered by a worker, as well as upkeep and opportunity costs. Most abused domestic workers rely on organizations like HOME to provide them with food and shelter, despite employers’ obligations to meet these needs under the Employment of Foreign Manpower framework. In addition, every day that a worker waits in our shelter is one in which she is not earning any salary.

Through no fault of their own, abused workers are left with no way to support the families who are waiting for them back home. Thus, it is crucial that victims of abuse are given a decent opportunity to work while they wait. Currently, abused domestic workers are unable to work in other sectors, but many tell us that they are afraid to work in another household after the trauma they suffered. Allowing these women to work elsewhere (for example in the service industry) would allow them to productively use their waiting time; alleviating a heavy financial and emotional burden.

HOME is heartened by AGC’s commitment to improving the plight of abused domestic workers in Singapore. We hope that the working group recognizes not only the need for abuse cases to be concluded more quickly, but also for domestic workers to be given fair compensation for their ordeals and a fair opportunity to work while they wait.

Finding the silver lining

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“Until now I stay at HOME. I’ve waited 15 months for my case. It has not been completed. Sometimes I think this is all unfair. Why do I have to wait for this? I need to earn money and help my parents.”

Idiyah* came to Singapore to earn money to support her family of six in Bandung, Indonesia. She knew about the nature of the job, and was prepared to work hard, but nothing could prepare her for the physical abuse, constant surveillance and complete isolation that awaited her. Idiyah was not allowed a hand phone, to call back home or even talk to the neighbours. The only time Idiyah, who did not have a day off, left the house, was when she was sent to her employer’s relative’s place for additional household chores – illegal deployment, which is not allowed in Singapore. Apart from that, Idiyah was trapped in her employers’ three-storey bungalow.

Things got worse when her employer suspected Idiyah of stealing one of her towels, and hit her on the head with a car key and slapped her face. Distraught, Idiyah requested to be sent back to her agent.

“But they said I need to pay them $6000 if I want to return to my agency”.

Idiyah was still paying off agency fees, and received only $10 allowance per month. She was trapped. The next time her employer hit her with a broom. One Sunday morning Idiyah ran away to seek help at the Ministry of Manpower. A friendly cab driver brought her to HOME at Orchard Road instead.

“When I called home and told my mother everything she cried. She asked me to come home. I want to go home too but everybody said I have to wait for the case.”

Idiyah stayed at the HOME shelter while her cases for illegal deployment and abuse were investigated. Idiyah expected it to be a speedy procedure but ended up waiting fifteen months for the investigations to be completed. During this time her father suffered a stroke, but Idiyah had to remain in Singapore while the investigations continued.

Despite the difficulties, Idiyah found solace in the activities at HOME’s shelter; she learnt sewing, and volunteered at HOME’s Waterloo Street office, assisting other migrant workers. Hers was always a smiling in the office and she found joy in helping others in a position similar to hers.

“During my stay at HOME I learnt a lot of things. I understand how to respect other people. It is a wonderful feeling. Sometimes I felt sad when I miss my family but I always try to smile and look happy. I try to be stronger.”

In the end, Idiyah decided not to press charges against her employers for the abuse, as she did not want to prolong the wait. Idiyah has returned to Indonesia but wants to come back to Singapore to work. Despite her experience, she has grown a lot, and during her stay at HOME improved her English, gained confidence, and made friends. She even learned some Tagalog from her Filipino friends! Idiyah believes she could now deal with whatever challenges may come her way.

Idiyah made the most of her time at HOME’s shelter, but the frustration and anxiety that she experienced during the fifteen-month wait for her case to be resolved were hard to endure. Underneath her smile, she was in pain.  Singapore does not have a comprehensive victim protection system to ensure that workers like Idiyah have adequate social support whilst awaiting the outcome of their case. Apart from this, measures to speed up the processing of investigations need to be implemented to ensure that victims are not themselves ‘punished’ again with long waits during which they are unable to provide for themselves and their families.

*Not her real name

Starved into Submission

Editor’s note: After the story was published, the Ministry of Manpower wrote to us that the cases in this article were being investigated. They also informed us that they would investigate complaints from FDWs about inadequate food.

You’re probably sitting down to read this article. At your desk or on the sofa. Somewhere comfortable. For domestic worker Amina, sitting down is now painful. She is so thin that it hurts her pelvis. She weighs a mere 29kgs, 20kg less than when she started work in Singapore. After Amina finally found the courage to run away from her employer, she was hospitalized for 3 days due to severe malnutrition. Amina is now recovering and has started gaining weight.

Amina’s case may sound extreme, but in the last year HOME has seen more cases of domestic workers suffering health problems caused by poor nutrition. In another case seen by HOME, domestic worker Shanti lost 7 kgs in 6 weeks because she was given only one small bowl of rice and one small bowl of vegetable curry per week. She prepared large meals of meat and vegetables for her employers, but was not allowed to touch their left-overs or even food they had thrown away. She was served her food on the floor. As she did not get a day off and received no salary as she was still paying off her agency fee, Shanti had no access to other food. She worked long days on an empty stomach.

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I took this photograph of my employer’s dinner one night.

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This is my food… it had to last me a whole week.

Government guidelines state that employers must provide ‘adequate food’ for their live-in domestic workers. But they do not define what amount, or type of food is adequate. The extent to which employers are taken to task for not providing adequate food is also not known. HOME has spoken to several domestic workers who were never given meat or vegetables, and had to live for long periods on just bread, rice or instant noodles. Many said they regularly went to bed hungry.

Failure to provide adequate food often coincides with abuse and denial of other basic living requirements. In Shanti’s case this included physical abuse by her employer. Amina was given limited access to washing facilities, was not allowed to brush her teeth and was allowed only two showers per week. To save money she was woken in the night to use the condominium showers rather than a bathroom in her employer’s apartment. Her employer, and sometimes even her employer’s husband, watched her shower, in order to make sure she did not use hot water.

Foreign domestic workers are legally required to live with their employers, which makes it hard to regulate their living circumstances. In cases where the employee works seven days a week, and has no opportunity to complement her diet elsewhere, she is left to the mercy of her employer.  Clearer guidelines and regulations on what comprises ‘adequate food’ for domestic workers would help to ensure that cases such as Amina’s and Shanti’s do not occur in future.

Names in this story have been changed to protect individuals’ privacy

She slaved away for nothing

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Maria Luisa, a domestic worker from the Philippines, stayed sixteen months at our HOME shelter waiting for MOM to help her recover two years’ worth of salary (she says it was about S$9,000) owed to her by her employer. As her employer has declared bankruptcy, she has been informed that she will be sent home to the Philippines – with nothing.

A family friend from Maria Luisa’s hometown in the Philippines was married to a Singaporean, and ran a restaurant in Katong. She offered to hire Maria Luisa and bring her – and her son – over to Singapore. Maria Luisa trusted her friend, and arrived in Singapore in early 2009. For almost four years, she worked in the couple’s restaurant – delivering food, preparing sauces, and serving tables – for fifteen-hour shifts at time, seven days a week, for $400 a month.

As her employers were friends of her family, Maria Luisa placed her trust in them and did not know that she should not be working in the restaurant. Her son remained in the Philippines; the promise to bring him over unfulfilled. Maria Luisa has not seen her son since she arrived in Singapore more than five years ago.

Maria Luisa’s employers treated her well at first, buying her jewellery for her birthday and new clothes for Chinese New Year. But they stopped paying her salary sometime in 2011. She was told that there was no money to pay her. But Maria Luisa saw the restaurant still running, and other bills being paid. She repeatedly asked for money to send to her school-going son, but was always rebuffed – even on the happy occasion of her son’s graduation from elementary school.

She couldn’t sleep, and often shed tears worrying that she had nothing to send back to her sister who was caring for her son and their parents. But she continued to work, hoping and trusting that her employers would be touched by her dedication.

“They kept telling me that they would pay me, so I just waited and waited. Sometimes I was too scared to ask them.

In March 2013, two years after her salary payments stopped, Maria Luisa finally filed a complaint with MOM. She was referred to the HOME shelter, and stayed there on a special pass during the on-going investigations.

After sixteen long months, the long-awaited call from MOM came. Maria Luisa’s employer had declared bankruptcy. The MOM officer said it would be too difficult to demand the owed salary from them. MOM was closing the case, and sending her home within 10 days. Maria Luisa broke down.

“How can I go home without any money, after waiting for three long years? I cannot accept it.”

Maria Luisa’s employer has pleaded guilty to several charges of failing to pay her and for illegal deployment, and has been jailed for six weeks as a result. But this is cold comfort for Maria Luisa, who now returns to the Philippines with nothing to show for three years of lost time. While she is happy to finally see her son, it is a bittersweet reunion because of her inability to contribute to her family’s finances.

“I’m not angry with them. But I can’t help but cry every night because I have nothing to bring back to my family.”

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Maria Luisa’s story was featured on the front page of The New Paper on Wednesday 23 July 2014.

HOME’s response to COI’s report on Little India Riot

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Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME) welcomes the recommendations made by the COI in relation to the rights and welfare of migrant workers. We are glad that the Committee acknowledges the important role that low wage migrant workers play in contributing to Singapore’s economy and community. However, for their contributions to be properly appreciated and acknowledged, they should be given adequate protection so that they are not abused and exploited.  Singapore needs to go beyond the recommendations laid out by the Committee by introducing systemic changes in order to fully realise the rights of low wage migrant workers. In this regard, our comments on specific aspects of the report are detailed below:

Foreign workers are happy

The COI’s finding that every foreign worker they spoke to ‘testified emphatically that they were happy’ with their jobs and living quarters does not take into consideration the fact that the workers may have given socially desirable answers to the Committee for fear of negative repercussions. This is especially so for interviews with workers who were arrested and deported for their alleged involvement in the riot. It would have been more effective if worker’s rights groups and NGOs conducted these interviews.

High employment agency fees

We agree with the COI that greater bilateral cooperation is necessary between Singapore and sending countries to protect the rights of workers and regulate recruitment fees. Singapore should only approve the work permits of workers who have gone through legal recruitment channels in countries of origin. Even though hefty recruitment fees are paid in countries of origin, large amounts are often remitted to employers and recruiters based in Singapore as kickbacks. More oversight and enforcement in this area is needed in Singapore as the problem does not only reside in the country of origin.

Annual increment of salary for workers

We welcome this recommendation but it will not be effective without legislation or a change in mindset among employers. We agree that being paid adequately and fairly is important but legal protections should be enacted to prevent wage discrimination by nationality. Moreover, current policies such as high foreign worker levies are a disincentive for employers to increase their wages. Levies can go up to SGD$1000 for each foreign worker hired. Many employers are already recovering the cost of levies by collecting kickbacks from workers.

The National Wages Council should also state explicitly in their annual report on wage increases that their recommendations also include foreign workers in order to send a strong signal to all employers to take the wage increments of their low wage migrant employees seriously.

Education on employment processes

While education about rights is important, what is vital is that policies and laws which make it difficult to claim those rights should be changed. For example, the unilateral right of an employer to cancel work permits needs to be curbed and the worker’s right to switch employers freely has to be guaranteed. Without these changes, workers will remain reluctant to file cases of abuse.

Sensitivity in dealing with foreign workers

We agree that more training on sensitivity of law enforcement officers need to be done. Over the years, we have heard many complaints from workers that some government officers are rude and brusque to them. We also urge for these recommendations to be extended to employers, as many of cases of ill treatment and verbal abuse are often caused by errant employers.

Improvements to accommodation

The COI reports that housing available to foreign workers in Singapore ranks well in the world; however, we believe this assessment is only true in relation to dormitories which have been built specifically to accommodate foreign workers. According to media reports[1], there are approximately 150,000 bed spaces in such dormitories out of over 700,000 low wage migrant workers in Singapore, excluding domestic workers. Large numbers of workers continue to live in cargo containers, factory converted dormitories, shop houses, private apartments, HDB flats and temporary work sites facilities, including incomplete buildings under construction. These places are often cramped, unhygienic and full of pests. Their living conditions still fall short of international housing standards.

Role of employers and community support groups

We agree that more resources need to be poured into establishing welfare groups and agree that employer groups should consider setting up and funding support communities for migrant workers. Working abroad in new surroundings can be very stressful for many migrant workers and adequate social support is necessary. In addition, there is an important need for independent representation of workers by unions in order for their interests to be effectively promoted, as only 11% of all foreign workers are unionised.

 

Jolovan Wham

Executive Director

 

[1] See for example: http://news.asiaone.com/print/News/Latest%2BNews/Singapore/Story/A1Story20121218-390175.html

HOME through the eyes of an intern

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By Arjuna s/o Segathesan

Arjuna was an intern at HOME in May and June 2014.

Today is my last day at HOME. The past month has been an unparalleled eye-opening experience. Under the constant guidance of the HOME staff, I have learnt much about the plight of migrant workers in Singapore. Interacting with migrant workers, I have discovered how different their lives are from the general public’s perception about them. In my time here, I have noticed that one issue keeps cropping up in all the cases that HOME encounters – the vulnerability of migrant workers.

The workers that seek help at HOME generally come from less developed Asian countries. They are often born into poor families and are drawn to Singapore’s wealth and job opportunities. These workers are seldom prepared for the harsh working conditions that they are subjected to in Singapore. Also, many workers become victims to trafficking.

I had the opportunity to interview Selvan and Kalai (the workers featured in the story ‘Deported, not Protected’).  Their story affected me in a deep personal level. These were workers who were just about my age and yet their lives had turned out to be so different from mine.

Selvan and Kalai, like many other workers who come to Singapore, were greatly disadvantaged by their poverty and lack of familiarity with English. Eager to secure jobs in Singapore to provide a better life for their families, these workers are easily deceived into paying exorbitant recruiment fees to agents, which then render them more susceptible to coercion, forced labour and debt bondage. For example, many workers are forced to sign substitute contracts with less favourable terms, sometimes without seeing the contract in their own language. The workers rely on the information provided by employers and recruiters, and often have limited knowledge of their legal rights. In many cases, these vulnerabilities lead to exploitation by recruitment agents and employers, both in the workers’ home countries and in Singapore.

I am heartened that organisations such as HOME assist workers in Singapore. It is also promising that the proposed anti-trafficking bill seeks to protect migrant workers from becoming victims of trafficking. However, more should be done. It is crucial that the proposed anti-trafficking bill adequately protects vulnerable migrant workers from debt bondage, forced labour and exploitation. Only then will unscrupulous agents and employers be forced examine their recruitment practices and stop exploiting vulnerable migrant workers for profit.

Singapore’s got talent!

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The X factor. American Idol. Idols. Britain’s got talent. America’s got talent. Who does not know them? But Singapore’s got talent, who’s heard of that? The city-state is not known for it’s creative excellence. Does Singapore have talent?

This weekend, I had the honour of being a judge at the HOME Talent Pageant 2014. The pageant is open to a very special group of Singapore residents: Foreign domestic workers. These brave women leave their home’s behind to take care of other peoples homes overseas. They live in their employers houses, have long working hours, and often not even a weekly day off. No wonder HOME felt these amazing women deserved to be in the spotlights for once.

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UWC’s Dover campus hosted the semi finals, the talent part of the pageant hosted by the amazing Pamela Wildheart. With the other judges I sat, slightly nervous, in anticipation of the day’s events. We would have to judge the contestants women from mostly Indonesia, the Philippines and India on attributes including stage presence, uniqueness, skills and emotional impact.

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HOME’s talent pageant not about body shape, age, race, weight. It is about inner beauty. Grace and charisma. Focusing on skills rather than beauty, the pageant hopes to encourage domestic workers develop their talents, and pick up life skills whilst working in Singapore. HOME Talent Pageant 2014 was organised by HOME domestic worker volunteers, giving them the opportunity to showcase their talents off-stage as well as on.

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Embracing my inner Simon Cowell, I sat in eager anticipation of the contestant’s performances in the first category, singing. Just like on TV, not all the contestants managed to hit the right notes all the time, but dedication, beautiful costumes and poise more than made up for that. In the special acts category, we heard declamations about the strife of foreign domestic workers, percussion, even dressmaking and make-up skills were demonstrated on stage. Doling out points became harder with each new contestant. How do you compare a lady dramatically acting despair to one performing a traditional Indonesian chant, or one swirling a hula-hoop on her neck?

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The most popular category was dancing, and wow, these ladies can shake their hips! We saw Shakira, belly dancing, hip-hop, traditional Philippines sarong dances, classical Javanese dance, pop, zumba, tribal dances, and much, much more.

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During the counting of the votes, the audience was treated to performances from fellow judges Gerson Lapid Jr, and Robert ‘Obet’ Sunga. Young music student Neil Chan made the hearts of many contestants’ race, with young ladies swarming around him to get their pictures taken. In the meanwhile I, the writer with the singing capacities of a peanut, hid in a corner.

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Fifteen finalists were selected, each of them demonstrating that domestic workers are capable of more than cleaning washing, or taking care of the elderly. They are women of many talents.

I hope that the HOME Talent Pageant 2014 will teach Singaporeans how unique and special their foreign domestic workers are, and that these women deserve the right, opportunity and time off to further develop their skills and talents.

The HOME Talent Pageant 2014 final will take place on Sunday, the 29th of June 2014 from 1 to 5pm at the Catholic Junior College Performing Arts Theatre, 129 Whitley Road Singapore. Tickets are available at 20 dollars each.

Text by Karien van Ditzhuijzen

Photographs by Tessie Cera and Karien van Ditzhuijzen

Singapore must do more to combat human trafficking: US TIP Report

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Every year, the U.S. Department of State releases a report on trafficking in persons across the globe. The 2014 report ranks Singapore as a Tier 2 country for the fourth consecutive year, as “[t]he Government of Singapore does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking however, it is making significant efforts to do so”. 

The 2014 report highlights the need for Singapore to do more to protect the rights of victims of trafficking. It recommends the introduction of a legally mandated victim-centered approach to investigating and prosecuting trafficking offences, providing protections to victims regardless of whether the case results in a prosecution, and increasing support to organisations assisting victims of trafficking. 

This is HOME’s response to the 2014 report:

Response to US Department of State’s trafficking in persons report

HOME agrees with the issues raised in the TIP report and the State Department’s Tier 2 ranking is correct. The Singapore government has started to take trafficking more seriously and this is a positive sign.

However, measures which ensure the rights of trafficked victims fall short of internationally recognised standards and those of other developed nations. For example, the right to decent work, compensation, legal aid, psychological and social support services is not guaranteed.

We are also deeply concerned that trafficked victims are being penalised for immigration and work related offences. Without an effective victim protection system, it is highly unlikely that trafficked migrants will file complaints and cooperate with the authorities.

Policies which encourage trafficking and forced labour, such as restrictions to job mobility, and the $5k security bond need to be abolished. We are also deeply concerned that trafficked victims are being penalised for immigration and work related offences.

The report mentioned  disagreement between the government and civil society on whether specific cases amounted to trafficking. Indeed, HOME has referred such cases which were rejected by the government, even though our interviews revealed strong trafficking indicators. However, the reasons for not classifying such cases as trafficking are rarely disclosed. Greater collaboration and exchange of information between the government and civil society organisations is needed so that trafficked victims can be more effectively assisted and perpetrators brought to justice.

The 2014 report was released last week. You can read it here:

Click to access 226848.pdf